The Write Away! offers engaging digital content to support online English classes, available to all secondary schools via the Ministry of Education’s School Learning Management System. Produced by the Bocas Lit Fest and sponsored by The Scotiabank Foundation, the Write Away! is designed to keep students and teachers motivated and engaged in reading, writing and online learning this year.
The Write Away! includes five virtual creative writing workshops, a teacher’s guide and a digital booklet of excerpts from award-winning Caribbean YA books, giving students access to exciting, culturally-relevant books of all genres that can foster a lifelong love of reading. Led by the award-winning author Lisa Allen-Agostini, the workshops break down the essentials of creative writing, and covers everything from character building to planning your plot and scene setting.
In the first term of the 2020-2021 school year, 9 secondary schools participated in the Write Away! project: Arima North Secondary, Belmont Secondary, Fyzabad Secondary, Marabella North Secondary, Pleasantville Secondary, San Juan North Secondary, St. James Secondary, Tableland Secondary and Waterloo Secondary. In addition to the digital package, those schools received a donation of books for their school libraries to facilitate book clubs and reading groups, and guided writing support for their students from workshop facilitator Lisa Allen-Agostini.
“Our priority at this time is ensuring that no student is left behind in this new digital learning space. We are pleased that our sponsorship of the Write Away! Young Adult Literature Project will provide secondary school students with a platform to foster a love of creative writing and reading.”
Roxane De Freitas – Chairperson, Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Foundation.
“On behalf of my students and my department, I want to express my gratitude for this resource. It is the type of resource I have been eager to find and make available to my students. I hope that the video package can be expanded to incorporate books that are part of our literary canon, as well as books published in the future. Additionally, I want to thank Bocas Lit Fest for including St. James Secondary in this workshop. It has been a memorable and enjoyable experience.”
Ms. K. Callender, Teacher II, St. James Secondary.
“Before I wouldn’t write dialogue a lot because it wasn’t something encouraged in school, but once I had that video in my hands, I got to watch it over and over to get an idea of the dos and don’ts, now I write dialogue in all my pieces.”
Jayden Phillip, Form 5, Waterloo Secondary School.
Enjoy excerpts from stories by talented young writers in the Write Away! project below:
Excerpt from The Hurricane
I will never forget but sometimes I try to. It was two years ago that it all happened and I am terrified to go through a day like that again. Every time I hear the wind blowing and rain falling outside I get flashbacks.
In June two years ago, my friend Alissa and I were on our way to school, when the wind started blowing very strong. We tried hurrying to reach to school before the rain began falling. Our friend Leeann lived close to where we were, so we stopped there to shelter hoping we wouldn’t get soaked by the rain. Leeann invited us inside as the weather worsened. Moments later, I looked through the foggy window and knew that we were not going to school in this kind of weather. Leeann’s mother decided to call our parents and inform them that we were at her house and in good hands, well at least that’s what we thought…
Excerpt from The Hurricane (by Julissa London)
As the sun set and my brothers and I sat by the window watching lightning shoot across the gloomy sky like bullets, and leaves swirling in the air like a magic trick. “Mommy supposed to be home by now dawg, way she?” my scared little brother said with a look of fear. “Alyuh modda say she on work till de storm ova so she say watch alyuh,” responded our aunt Marsha, who then suggested that we go by her and spend the night.
“What we going and do over dey, she have no internet and she TV not even good. Yuh hadda use a scissors to put it on, and on top ah dah yuh cyah even low up de volume,” my big brother said quietly to me and my little brother.
With no excitement to spend the night over there, we argued our way into staying home.
by Gabrielle Walke, age 16
Excerpt from My Winter Love
I can hear my heart beat uncontrollably in my chest, as it pounds in my ear, repeatedly. My hand on the door shakes violently as I look at the sight in front of me.
My wife…my sweet wife, who hasn’t walked since young is standing on her own two feet. Taking one step at a time she walks ever so slowly around the living room before noticing me, she then proceeds to walk towards me, stumbling forward as her legs give out.
I catch her breaking her fall before falling on my knees, little tears in my eyes as I look down at my wife. she smiles ever so gentle before resting her tired eyes.
Jamya Ramdass, age 15
Excerpt from An Accident
“We will need to prepare for the surgery,” stated the doctor to one of the nurses as I slowly regained consciousness. “Where am I?” I questioned as I made an unsuccessful attempt to rise from my bed. “You are in the hospital,” he said as he tried to calm me down. I felt as though a million knives had stabbed my body. I could not bear the pain anymore and as I slowly drifted into unconsciousness, I could hear a blood curdling scream resound out of my being. Let me tell you my story…
It was a warm, summer day and I was extremely excited because today my best friends Josiah, Tyrell and I were going to visit our uncle Joseph on the surprisingly peaceful army base. Hurriedly, we packed snacks, juices, water and other essentials for our trip. “Come on children, we will be late!” exclaimed my mother as she snatched the car keys and headed to our small, blue vehicle. With no time to waste, we got into the vehicle and drove away.
Asia Graham, age 12
Excerpt from Mr. Mad
“Emiko, I need yuh help. My ball flew and broke the neighbour’s plant pot, I need it back to finish my game,” Alex rambled on and on after bursting into my room while I was watching a horror.
The look of shock and fear was visible on my face but I immediately shrugged it off and replied, “W-well apologise and ask for it back then.”
“But it broke…Mr. Mad’s pot,” At that very moment one of the people in the movie screamed horrifically.
“What! Nah nah nah. Ask somebody else then, not me, you not getting me to go over there unless you pay me for de last time I help you, remember yuh owe meh lunch,” I jumped at the opportunity.
“Well I’ll owe you lunch and dessert then. Yuh happy?” He huffed back at me.
“Alright then hear is the plan, but first let me tell you who we dealing with here,” I chuckled.
Mr. Mad was mean and unkind with a heart the size of a pebble and a brain to match it. It was said that he went to jail for eating a hundred children, in one swallow , of course I thought it was a tall tale but I still keep my distance just in case. Some say he is a Soucouyant and has the ability of not only sucking blood but also happiness and joy, he wore the most outdated clothing which made it hard NOT to believe he wasn’t one. Some even said he was a hunter that was capable of chasing a puma from the Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago, I had no doubt about that one, because he was able to chase children, adults and dogs off his lawn. All I could say is that man was way too far from redemption, even the devil was a big fan of him.
”Ok now this is what we need; Holy water, a cross, garlic and a priest,” I whispered.
Alex stared back at me and answered sarcastically …
“You know what, we could just ask one of the parents to get it back.”
“Boy, get out meh room!” I yelled in an annoyed voice.
Subira La Fleur
Excerpt from Untitled
The golden rays of sunlight shone through the living-room louvers as I sat in my grandmother’s living-room playing a game of cards with my uncle, Pom-Pom before there was a sudden knock on the front door. I approached the old, wooden, dark-brown door and opened it to see my best-friend, Tabby.
“You want to go outside and play?” Tabby asked.
“Okay, just now,” I replied before walking away to put on my shoes. “Uncle Pom-Pom, I’m going outside with Tabby,” I told him as I put on my signature dusty, brown, boots.
“Alright, come inside before the streets light turn on, you hear?” he replied to my statement. I muttered an “okay” before walking out of the door and into the yard.
I sat in my grandmother’s yard under the laden, lofty mango tree as beautiful blue and yellow birds flocked to peck at the juicy fruit. As Tabby and I sat on hot, barely alive, grass playing a game of dominos, my attention slowly faded from the game and into Aunty Pam-Pam and Miss Mary’s conversation. My grandmother always said “Don’t mind other people’s business because you will miss out on your own,” but I couldn’t help it.
“You heard about Johnny’s boy, Mark?” Aunty Pam-Pam questioned, “Yes Pam, he was caught thieving the neighbour’s boxers off their line.” she replied. A loud cackle left my dried, cracked lips. “You know how long I’ve been calling your name for you to play and you sitting there staring into space and laughing,” grumbled Tabby. “Sorry Tabby, I was just listening to what Aunty Pam-Pam and Miss Mary was talking about.” I said before toning my ears back into their conversation. “He thieving a thing like boxers, but his mother always seen wearing big gold chain and earrings,” Miss Mary continued.
“Yes Pam, his mother always buying brand name products but can’t afford a boxers.” Miss Mary agreed.
Excerpt from The Murder That Became a Mystery
I met Lisa when she visited my company in New York. She was a customer in line waiting to sign up for one of my graphic design services. It was like love at first sight. As I glimpsed her I felt butterflies swirling in pit of my stomach like a little girl now falling in love with her handsome prince. I was so drawn to her olive skin and piercing green eyes that I didn’t want to look away. “Hello beautiful, it’ll be my honour to assist you today.” And from that little conversation Lisa and I hit it off.
It started to go downhill approximately three months later. Lisa started transferring money from my bank account to hers, going on long trips without me having any communication with her, and that’s when I started to become suspicious. I hired a private investigator and was heartbroken and devastated when I found out the truth…
Excerpt from Twin Boys
The heat from the sun filled the house, so Paul decided to take his pencils and water colours and sit under the mango trees. The still air in the midday heat made Paul drowsy, but he fought against it, gripping his pencil and starting his sketch. A clear picture of what he wanted to paint, came to his mind. All the things he had seen stayed in his memory, became a part of him and his thoughts. Not even his twin brother, Jason and his superior self could demolish.
The tall grass bent in the winds; the hibiscus flowers shone bright red in the sunlight, the casuarinas swayed and whispered. The atmosphere was cool under the trees as Paul lay on his back with the pencil in his mouth, looking through the spider’s web of the trees’ leaves. Paul thought the trees were tall, slender, graceful and lovely, during the day, swinging, arching and murmuring like graceful women in photos, while at night, they take petrifying shapes as the stars and moon light the sky.
Paul shivered at the thought. One night, after dinner, Paul went for a walk with his brother, Jason, and their father. Even after many years, Paul recalled the moon rising when they left home and they were in happy spirits; he learnt to whistle. He remembered Jason’s mocking laugh. Paul recollected the mango shadows, in Garnet Road, in the soft lights, strange and disturbing; the wind’s whispers through the trees. The whole picture was dimly lit by the moon. He clutched his father’s hand, who understood that he was scared and squeezed his hand in reassurance. However, Jason obliviously hopped and pranced along the road, whistling and showcasing his fearlessness to the ghostly shadows. As Paul pieced the memory together, his head filled with hate towards his twin brother.
Hannah Isahack, age 14
Excerpt from The Feud
In Golden Oaks high, an incident occurred between two students named Oliver Mane and Mckayla Brown. Both are 16 years of age; they attend almost every class together and they both have a dislike towards each other. Mckayla grew up in the Caribbean but moved to California, she is known for having beautiful full curly hair and is popular in her grade. Oliver grew up in California and is the opposite in popularity. He had a small loyal friend group. But that all changed a few months ago, when Oliver had bumped into Mckayla in the cafeteria and accidentally spilled an entire plate of spaghetti and meatballs on her. She was embarrassed and didn’t take that as an accident in her eyes. Her desire was to get revenge on him, although he was genuinely sorry about it.
This caused a feud between them which was a consistent every other day activity, insults would be thrown recklessly at each other when passing in the hallways. Punishments were never given because of their secrecy in engaging in these rebellious activities.
by Tonya Dorner, age 16
Excerpt from The Class Fight
“Good Morning Class,” said Mr Simmons our Mathematics teacher. “In today’s two period session we’ll be playing our final revision game for the term. Please form two lines the boys line to the right and the girls to the left, you all have two minutes to name your teams.
The boys named themselves “Fire Boys” and the girls “The Butterflies Princesses”. As Sir started explaining the instructions for the game Maria shouted, “ We have been playing this game since form one, no need to explain again!”
Suddenly Antonio, the tallest and most aggressive boy in our class, said, “ Shut up and listen.” Before Sir could have even started back his explanation, Maria and Antonio started shouting over the room disturbing the other class.
by Faith Hernandez, age 17
Excerpt from Deceit and Deception
They were a famous couple; rich and glamourous. Loved each other, or so it was to the outside world, literally till death did they part. He was 25. She was 21. Married within just months of meeting each other. They had a baby boy together but nothing lasts forever. Behind closed doors, he was an alcoholic and frequently mistreated her and their child. She reached her breaking point. She could not take anymore. So, she did what she thought was right.
Tia Lamont, age 16
Excerpt from The Narrow Escape
As the sun rose in the sky with its bold orange colour shining and smiling on the earth, taking its time to crawl quickly up to my bedsheet, I toss and twist, unhearing my mother yelling at me to get my lazy self out of my room. I woke up with my body feeling restlessly unable to walk. Dragging myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth I took up my toothbrush rinsed it off and brushed. I did what any other child at my age would do I passed my finger to take up the toothpaste and placed it on my toothbrush and then continued to brush my teeth. I took a bath in some ice cold water, made my bed and headed downstairs to fill my stomach before school.
“Good Morning ma”
“Morning son…… yuh bathe?”
“Brush yuh teeth?”
“Say yuh pray?”
“Yuh say yuh pray?”
“No ma.” “Boy, before I whoop yuh little behind go and thank de lord for waking yuh up eh, thank him for blessing yuh through de night. What happen tuh yuh?”
Ahmarley Brereton, age 15
Excerpt from The Murder
Later that evening, David returned at 5:30 pm. He entered his home and called to his mother, “Mom! I’m home!”… No answer…
“Mom? Are you there?”
Still no answer.
Steadily, David walked throughout the house. At this point he felt queer, extremely uneasy in his stomach. He knew, without a doubt in his mind something was definitely wrong. “Mom, I…” Abruptly, he stopped dead in his tracks. As he pushed the oak door to his mother’s bedroom, he saw blood splattered all over the teak flooring and sprawled on the bed, was his mother’s bloody body.
Shalom Deandra O’Connor, age 16
Excerpt from Breaking the Silence
There, at the side of the table, a bouquet. I am hurt, confused and my eyes are wide with fear. Today was my sister’s funeral and I felt as though a part of me was about to be taken away. In the church there was loud chattering, banging and weeping everywhere. It hurt me so much to know I would not have her to turn to anymore. My other sister, Alesha, and I were speechless. Different thoughts were rushing through my head. I got a horrible headache and went for fresh air outside of the church. The breeze was intense and as I closed my eyes tears came gushing down. It was now time for the burial and the casket was placed in the back of a car, and eventually everyone followed slowly in their cars to the cemetery. Seeing the casket with my sister being placed into the cemetery hole broke me. She was buried next to her deceased best friend, Anna-Mae. I knew this was going to change me forever.
Monique Johnson, age 16
Excerpt from The Psychic Hospital
The pale crescent moon shone like a silvery claw in the night sky. Looking out my huge bedroom window, I could see the blanket of stars that stretched to infinity. He had just dozed off leaving me wide awake. I knew it was time to escape. My sister was already waiting for me, just across the bushes. I crawled out of bed, slowly, tip toeing through the mansion. I took a knife from the cabinet draw, for protection. I had no intentions of using it but if he came after me I was going to kill him right, then and there.
Jayden Philip, age 16
Excerpt from Coffee Tree
Our white wagon had just pulled up and we were in the deep middle of the estate. The birds’ chirping was constant but gentle. I remember the rustling of the trees and the tiny creatures that lurked.
I asked, “What is it you grow out here?”
“Timber, rough lemons and we’re trying out some plantain.” You responded as if you had the answer all planned out and ready to release.
I looked up and witnessed the towering immortelle trees, I even saw the cumulus clouds and their precise but soft outlines that stood in contrast to the azure sky. Out there the clouds looked almost exact to the ones you would make with cotton balls. They were white and had so much volume, but most importantly perfect.
“How can one find time to be sad out here?” I asked, when really what I wanted to say was,
How come you relapsed? Out here was like a little touch of Heaven, yet still, you chose Hell.
Jayden Phillip, age 16
Excerpt from The Backyard Graveyard
That spot, her spot. The spot where she would lie on, the perfect spot. The western sun would create a shadow from the house, there you still had a bit of light without the heat, but the warmth and cool, in equilibrium. She favoured that spot greatly, especially in the August days. Possibly she had known her final hours were near, and to not spend it all on chasing a bird. That too might have been difficult with all the pain she felt. So, she chose to live it out, in the spot she knew, she felt most comforted by. Why didn’t she come to me instead? Was she ashamed, was she scared or was she too proud? Why was I not given a final goodbye?